King’s Fund publish report on shared decision-making

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Shared decision-making is a process in which clinicians and patients work together to select tests, treatments, management or support packages, based on clinical evidence and the patient’s informed preferences. It involves the provision of evidence-based information about options, outcomes and uncertainties, together with decision support counselling and a system for recording and implementing patients’ informed preferences.

The government wants shared decision-making to become the norm in the NHS, but there is confusion about why it is important, what it involves and what the implications might be for patients, clinicians and the wider health service. This report clarifies the concept and outlines the actions needed to make the aspiration a reality.

The report concludes:

The key message is that we could do better and we need to do better. Effective shared decision-making is not yet the norm and many patients want more information and involvement in decisions about treatment, care or support than they currently experience.

The biggest challenge now is to devise effective ways for supporting shared decision-making and ensuring it is embedded in mainstream clinical practice. Embedding shared decision-making into systems, processes and workforce attitudes, skills and behaviours is a challenge, but several pilot implementation projects are under way and they will offer valuable experience on which to base practice in the future.

It is important that the lessons about how to design systems of care that promote shared decision-making from these demonstration projects are captured and used to inform future policy and practice. It is likely that embedding shared decision-making will require a combination of effective clinical leadership, social marketing, incentives, practical support, education and training, measurement and feedback, and patient push.

Angela Coulter, Alf Collins. Making shared decision-making a reality: no decision about me, without me (PDF). The King’s Fund, July 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol with his wife, dog and three little elflings.

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